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“It was a good decision and the final was good for me… it was circumstance, I didn’t choose this. I was just lucky to have a finish like this and to finish the job. I’m pretty happy today."

Photo: Sirotti






11.10.2014 @ 15:02 Posted by Emil Axelgaard

This morning Philippe Gilbert didn't expect to shine in stage 2 but the decision to shorten the stage made the finish perfectly suited to the punchy Belgian. He admitted to have been favoured by the circumstances and will have a day-to-day approach to the final part of the race.


BMC Racing Team's Philippe Gilbert timed his sprint to perfection Saturday, coming around Janse Van Rensburg (Team Giant-Shimano) on the final curve of a shortened Stage 2 of the Tour of Beijing to take the win and move into the overall lead. Inside of 100 meters to go, Van Rensburg took the lead. But Gilbert overtook him with 25 meters to go and the past world road champion still had time to thrust his arm in the air as he won his team-best sixth race of the season. 


"I was waiting because I knew in a finish like this that I am really strong," Gilbert said. "So I was just waiting for someone else to take the lead. I did not want to go first. So when Van Rensburg went, it was perfect. I think he wanted me to go on the inside and close me out. But I just went on the corner on the left. There was a lot of space and I didn't take any risks."


Gilbert's win help him also take the lead in the sprint classification and added to back-to-back victories in April at Brabantse Pijl and the Amstel Gold Race and two stages and the overall of the Ster ZLM Toer in June. 

Gilbert was part of a large group that was shoulder-to-shoulder across the road leading into the final kilometers of the uphill finish of the 111-km race that was shortened by 36 km due to poor air quality at the original finish city of Yanqing. BMC Racing Team Sport Director Yvon Ledanois said the change meant a switch of tactics.


"We spoke in our meeting this morning that if we had the opportunity for Philippe, we would take it," Ledanois said. "The guys did a very good job for him."


Gilbert, who is racing the Tour of Beijing for the first time, said it was confusing hearing of last-minute changes, but they were in his favor. "


"It is always better for me when it is an uphill finish," he said. "I was focused on the race and I got some good help from teammates, which was important for the position at the end. And then I was feeling good in the last kilometer.


“This morning it was raining and there was a lot of pollution in the air and we spoke together with the organisation and the UCI (commissaires) and everyone agreed that they should cancel the last 30km.
“It was a good decision and the final was good for me… it was circumstance, I didn’t choose this. I was just lucky to have a finish like this and to finish the job. I’m pretty happy today.


“It was not easy because when you have the final in the race book you can see the last 5km, here we didn’t have the information. Luckily we had the radio and the soigneurs did recon for us and the sport directors told me where the corners were and where the wind was coming from.
“I was just waiting and Van Rensburg passed me and I was just waiting on the last 100 metres to pass him.”
“We have a good team with some good guys. We’re going to try and control this but we’ll take it day by day. It’s very important for us to get WorldTour points. We’re third by team ranking and we want to stay in this position.”
Despite conditions being a lot better than expected in Yanqing when the peloton arrived for a 3km ceremonial ride to the finish line, Global Cycling Promotion director Alain Rumpf said without question the right decision had been made earlier.
“We spoke with some riders this morning and we’ve been monitoring the situation from the beginning,” Rumpf said.
“The decision that was taken was the only one that could be taken at that time. Timing was very important,” he continued. “We wanted to have a clear situation where everybody started the race knowing exactly what was going to happen.”

“The people of Yanqing were very understanding of the situation and the organising committee did an excellent job of ensuring the best result could be made.”
Stage winner, Gilbert, was pleased with the decision.
“It’s always good to take a decision before [the race], organize everything. For me, it’s the first time that I’ve seen a decision taken together. This means a lot because a lot of times in the past, the riders were not listened to and today we took a big step in our sport.”

In the overall standings, Gilbert leads Van Rensburg by five seconds and third-place finisher Rui Costa (Lampre-Merida) by seven. BMC Racing Team's Samuel Sánchez was 14th on the stage – in the same time as Gilbert – and is one of 21 riders who are 11 seconds off the lead with three days to go.


"This was a good result for the team and Philippe has good legs after the world championships," Ledanois said. "Philippe is very motivated and Samuel is there, too, and also motivated. So it is perfect for us at the moment."


Gilbert said he will take a wait-and-see approach to hang onto the leader's red jersey during Sunday's mountainous stage, which features seven categorized climbs.


"Everyone is saying the long climb of 12 kilometers is very hard," he said. "But I don't know. I have never done it. We will take things day-by-day and see for the GC (general classification)."



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